The AMD FirePro W9000 & W8000 Review: Part 1by Ryan Smith on August 14, 2012 4:00 AM EST
More to Come, So Stay Tuned
Wrapping up the first part of our review of the FirePro W9000 and W8000, we’ve taken a look at the specifications of the new FirePro W series, along with looking at the impact of Graphics Core Next for professional graphics, and how all of this fits together in AMD’s larger plans. AMD’s big goal remains to capture a much larger share of the lucrative professional graphics market from NVIDIA in order to break out of the sub-20% rut they’ve been in for some time. To do that they not only need to deliver solid hardware at a reasonable price, but also exceptionally solid drivers, and major industry partnerships that will advance the state of professional graphics applications and help AMD counter NVIDIA’s strong marketing message at the same time.
Later this week we’ll be publishing our second part of this review, focusing on building a professional graphics test suite and the resulting benchmarks. It goes without saying that benchmarking professional cards comes with quite a few quirks, less so because of the hardware and more because of the typical programs. A typical professional graphics application looks, acts, and renders nothing like a game – in particular shaders are sparingly used – which means that performance bottlenecks are in entirely different places.
This actually poses a recurring problem for the professional graphics industry, since compute/shader performance has been growing by leaps and bounds, while raw texture and pixel throughput has been much more modest. This reflects the consumer market where games are primarily investing in shader effects and 1080P has been a staple resolution for quite some time, but it means that many professional applications aren’t directly tapping much of a modern GPU’s capabilities since shaders aren’t heavily used. Instead some professional applications can tap those resources through the use of compute, which is part of the reason why AMD and NVIDIA both invest in projects that increase the use of compute in the professional graphics market.
Anyhow, we’ll have more on the performance of the FirePro W series later this week with our follow-up article. So until then stay tuned.